Friday, December 31, 2010

Taking Down the Tree

The boxes are down from the attic and the kids are helping me round up all the little Christmas trees placed throughout the house.  I'm sure we will discover one missed in a couple of weeks...or months!  ;)  As Christmas is past and 2010 is ending, I am reflecting back on this year and I have to say that I am ready for 2011.

We are beginning this new year off on a journey of faith.  This time around it wasn't one that we chose for ourselves as we did 8 years ago.  This time it was given to us.  A steady, guaranteed paycheck will not be appearing in our bank account on a bimonthly basis nor will health and dental insurance keep us from the anxiety of the inevitable sickness that finds children.  However, no less faith is required to charge forward on the path that we believe God has prepared for us.

Each moment of our lives are stitched together with faith from the time we kiss our children at the school dropoff to saying goodbye to our spouses as they leave for work.  We have faith that God will protect them and provide for them through whatever they encounter.  Faith that He is our Healer and Sustainer.  Faith that He is our Provider.  He is our Banner and Shield.

I am taking down the trees as well as reminding Satan that I have taken down the pain of 2010 through the blood of Jesus...Faith is my Victory!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Thy Word Have I Hid

This has been one of the best Christmases that my family has experienced in a long time!  Cameron said that even though they didn't open very many packages he loved this Christmas the best.  That truly makes this momma's heart happy...I'm sure you understand! 

He received a couple of lazer tag guns.  I didn't know anything about these guns when I first heard him mention that he would like some several months ago.  I googled them and read countless customer reviews until I found some in my price range that an adult consumer even loved.  WOW!  They are so much fun to play with!  The only downside is having to stop and reload!  hahaha

I am a tad on the assertive...okay, fine...aggressive side :) and I charge after my opponent firing the whole time, so inevitably when I have to stop and reload, I get hit.  There have been several battles when the boys have figured me out and they simply wait to shoot while I am reloading.  Good strategy on their part, but I am truly shouting, "Not fair!"  :)  All in good fun...well, as long as I'm winning!

As this day is drawing to a close, and I am ready to commit to a Scripture memory challenge, it dawns on me that I face life this way many times.  I can charge ahead and then when I am out of gas, Satan attacks.  As this year has been drawing to a close I have been neglecting the very thing I need to reload.  Instead of saturating my mind with the Word, I have been dwelling on the "truth" Satan has been feeding me.  He knows my weakness and I have been letting him push my buttons.

Why, oh why, would I allow this when the very power that conquered the grave lives inside of me?!!  Jesus defeated the attacks of Satan with Scripture He had committed to memory...I can do the same!

"Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee."  There are many reasons for Christians to memorize the Word of God, and a powerful one is found in the book of Psalms.  The very Word of God will keep us from falling into sin.  I Corinthians tells us that with every temptation comes a way of escape.  Hearing the Word spoken to my soul from deep in my heart has led me back to my Father's side many times and I will never reach the place where I won't need to reload.

So, I am publicly declaring that I will be joining Beth Moore's Siesta Scripture Memory Team for 2011.  I am committing to memorizing 24 verses in the next 12 months...24 new verses for me.  I will not be simply refreshing my memory of verses I have already memorized, but will commit a new arsenal as I reload for victory! And, I do love to win!

Please consider joining me.  Check out her blog post that describes the team.  And, then let me know you will be joining me.  A cord of three strands is not easily broken.  Eccl 4.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions For Kids

Jesus Calling has been the perfect answer to my prayer for Cameron.  Each night as I would tuck him into bed, we would discuss the day and pray.  Now, the heart and words of Jesus pour into him as well.

Jesus Calling:  365 Devotions for Kids was written by Sarah Young during her own personal quiet times with the Lord.  The devotions are written in the first person, as if Jesus is speaking directly to the reader.  Many times, I have found myself changing the pronouns in the Bible to the first person because I want to hear Jesus addressing me specifically.

The devotions cover many aspects of a Christian's walk from fear to joy to giving and faith.  Each day begins with a verse from the Word followed by a devotional thought and ending with further verses to look up and read.  Cameron has chosen these verses and thoughts to share with his class at school when it is his turn to lead the daily devotional. 

Not only has Jesus Calling helped ground him in the Word, it has developed his confidence in sharing the Word.  I whole-heartedly recommend this devotional for parents and kids.

I received this book free from the publisher through the Thomas Nelson book review bloggers program.

Monday, November 29, 2010

November Puddles vs June Puddles

November 29th...Thanksgiving is over and our bellies are full.  Christmas is in high gear from the Black Friday crazies (of which I have taken part) to the millions of twinkle lights creating magic in the hearts of children (or the childlike).  Cooler temperatures have arrived in my little corner of Texas and I am ready for winter...ready for the extra blankets that have been freshly laundered and brought down to a lower shelf in the closet...ready for the snuggly sweaters and scarfs with matching mittens...ready for boots that keep my toes toasty and outfits trendy...ready for...rain?!  No...that doesn't fit the puzzle I am putting together.  However, that is what we woke up to this morning.  Pouring down, cold, no-fun-to-be-had rain!

The kids and I headed to the car quickly this morning to avoid getting drenched and forged on to school.  When we arrived the parking lot was full of way to avoid them as we headed in on our first day back from a fun-filled break.  Typically, a vivacious five year old would jump right in those puddles and watch the water fly!  You know you've done the very same June!  or to be poetically correct, April!  April showers bring May flowers (which brought the pilgrims!  One of my son's favorite jokes!).  In June, or April, the water is cool and refreshing.  In November, it is cold and miserable.  It makes you wish for a fireplace to lay in front of and warm up with a steaming mug of hot cocoa...don't forget the marshmallows, please!

Today, Chloe stood at the edge of a puddle that was clearly too wide for her to step across.  She looked up and down and realized she would have to step in it to get to the building.  Her eyes gazed up at me and before she uttered the words I knew I would have to rearrange everything in my arms to scoop her up and save her from her from the rain puddle?!  I think not!  I reminded her how much fun it is to splash in I can't keep her out of them in the she loves to walk out of her way to find the largest puddle to jump in.  She wasn't convinced and tiptoed her way across.

The fact is cold water feels good when you are hot but it is miserable when you are cold.  The same is true of our words.  Words can encourage someone in the right circumstance but could also discourage in the wrong moment.  My favorite book says, "Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in the right circumstances." Proverbs 25:11.

May wisdom guide our words to be spoken well at the right time.  Splashes of rain in June...

Monday, July 19, 2010

where everybody knows your name

It may have been a bar that was referred to as the place where everybody knows your name and they're always glad you came. should be the church.  Noone should walk through the doors of a church and feel unwanted or unwelcome.  Each individual should be touched and spoken to.  And, I mean spoken to in a conversation sort of way...not in a "Good Morning" now I'm done fashion.

I have recently returned to the church that is home in my heart.  Throughout my many years of life I have only been a member of this congregation for perhaps 3 years and not consecutive.  Yet, I feel as though I belong...I am one of them.  The people who make up this church never cease to amaze me with their warmth and friendship.

Yesterday, I was in a meeting at the church where I only knew the minister and yet I felt as if I was with friends.  It is all because people chose to open their mouths and hearts and welcome me.  I was spoken to and touched.  Oh, how my heart has needed this body of believers and I know God is going to continue showering them with blessings as they lift His name and love others.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Learning Something New

I am confident that one day I will be a published author.  I just know it.  Call me an optimist, a dreamer or crazy, but I am confident of the dream God has given me and know that He will give me an avenue to share the burden on my heart.

Because of this dream book ideas and book titles are always around me.  They pop up in the craziest of times and silliest of ways.  A few years ago I grew weary of hearing my boys say to one another, "I know."  They used this phrase to everyone about everything.  I was one of these teenagers...always thinking I was right, knowing that I knew the right thing and at the right time.  I did not want my boys to become what I once was, so we decided to change the "I know" to "You're right."  Because if someone tells us what we already know to be true, aren't they right?! 

Also the attitude behind the two phrases is different.  The attitude of "I know" is one of superiority.  It's the I'm better than you...I'm smarter than you...Who do you think you are to try and teach me.  Definitely not the mind of Christ. 

Now the attitude of the second phrase is one of encouragement, praise and support.  It says, "Good job!"  The words build up the spirit of the speaker as having been acknowledged with success.  Because really, don't you just love being right?  Isn't it a wonderful feeling knowing you have the right information and knowledge?  Trust me, I have been wrong often enough in my "25" years that being right is an AMAZING feeling.  And to have someone else acknowledge my "rightness" creates a pause in the moment as I savor the euphoria.  lol!

Recently, teenagers in our youth group acknowledged that they have stopped coming to the youth service because they already know everything being taught.  They already know that God desires His children to be in church inviting their unsaved friends to join them.  They already know that Christians should spend consistent, quality time in Bible study and prayer.  The importance of memorizing Scripture has already been taught to them.  They know the value of accountability. 

I could go on and on because we teach the basics of the Christian faith so that when teenagers graduate high school and go on to college we desire them to not graduate from their faith.  We have a passion about instilling the disciplines of the faith so deep in the souls of the students entrusted to us that we will not stop teaching them what they may already know.  This passion extends to the deep-seeded desire to watch them reproduce themselves in others.  To take the knowledge they have gained and instill it in another is something that produces a high no drug created can compete with.

Seeing former youth now involved in full-time ministry, hearing about the salvations of students on a dorm floor because of the leadership of one who graduated from our ministry but not his faith...these are the reasons we struggle for what we hold dear.

Our new pastor said in his first sermon at our church, "Doctrine that does not lead to practice is wasted knowledge."  Knowing God desires you to come to church and grow with other believers is wasted if you do not show up.  Knowing God wants you to share His love with those around you is wasted if you never open your mouth.  Knowing God hopes to see you lead others to grow in Him is wasted if you choose to take yourself out of church instead of stepping up to leadership positions.

There comes a time in every Christian's life where the phrase "Actions speak louder than words," is evident.  Knowledge is wasted if actions of that knowledge are not displayed.

Because really...can't we all learn something new when we already knew everything?

future book title..."Learning Something New When I Already Knew Everything." :)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Teacher's Pet

I realize that it is not a wise thing to have a teacher's pet.  It could cause problems in the classroom and with other student's parents. 

But what am I to do when one of my students brings in an incredibly delectable treat after hearing me describe the tantalizing effects of one? 

And in such a clever way?!!

She even remembered a bottle opener!!  Tell me...what was I to do?!  extra credit?  :)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Freedom or Chains

Jackson and Cameron competed in the ACSI regional Speech Meet today in Tyler, Texas.  Cameron recited the fable, "The Honest Woodman."  Jackson gave an original speech about our nation entitled, "Freedom or Chains."  I am proud of them for their courage to stand before students, parents and judges and speak.  It is a skill that many of us do not possess and I love them for their willingness to strive to become better.  I know God has great things in store for them.

I wanted to share Jackson's speech with you.  Several parents who heard him said he had their vote.  His are powerful words that we should take to heart.  Let's keep our nation free and commit to doing our part to make her into a strong Christian nation who honors the Lord.

Freedom or Chains
by Jackson Bates, age 10
As Americans we claim to be free, but are we? We can move about freely, own private property and bear arms, but will the government one day try to change this?
In church we can worship in our own way, teach our children to believe as we do and we can believe in God as we wish, but will the government one day try to shut down all the churches we have built? Will they one day try to take away our religious freedoms?
Based on recent events, such as, government takeovers of the auto industry, bank bailouts and the White House leaving out Fox News from important press conferences because of the way they were reporting about them leads you to believe that the government is on its way to replacing our freedoms for their chains.
It appears that our taxes are going up on a daily basis. We should learn from the example of the Congo and their former leader General Joseph Mobutu. He took away what should have been their enormous wealth and made himself one of the richest men in the world as he allowed them to spiral down to the depths of the poor. The Congolese are still suffering from the effects of his leadership. America could very well be on her way if our citizens don’t keep an eye on the leaders of this country.
The one guarantee we have in maintaining freedom over chains is democracy which means “people rule.” Democracy is the idea that people have the right to take an active part in their government. We have the right to vote. We have the right to run for office. We have the right to make sure our voices are heard. We should do our best to keep our freedoms free and take back those things the government has placed in chains.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Love and War

 "...Mostly what God does is love you...His love was not cautious but extravagant...Love like that."
Ephesians 5:1-2 (msg)

Kelly and I have been married for almost 19 years and our relationship is at its best when we are spending time together talking, laughing, eating (Mexican food preferably) and focusing on the other.  Extravagant love does not require a sacrifice of money...simply a sacrifice of time and selfish desires.  God does not spend money.  God gave His Son.  Jesus gave His energy, His tears, His very life.  These are the marks of extravagance.

"What the Eldredge bestsellers Wild at Heart did for men, and Captivating did for women, LOVE & WAR will do for married couples everywhere. John and Stasi Eldredge have contributed the quintessential works on Christian spirituality through the experience of men and the experience of women and now they turn their focus to the incredible dynamic between those two forces.

With refreshing openness that will grab readers from the first page, the Eldredges candidly discuss their own marriage and the insights they’ve gained from the challenges they faced. Each talks independently to the reader about what they’ve learned, giving their guidance personal immediacy and a balance between the male and female perspectives that has been absent from all previous books on this topic. They begin LOVE & WAR with an obvious but necessary acknowledgement: Marriage is fabulously hard. They advise that the sooner we get the shame and confusion off our backs, the sooner we'll find our way through.

LOVE & WAR shows couples how to fight for their love and happiness, calling men and women to step into the great adventure God has waiting for them together. Walking alongside John and Stasi Eldredge, every couple can discover how their individual journeys are growing into a story of meaning much greater than anything they could do or be on their own."

This was book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.  You can purchase your copy at

Saturday, February 13, 2010

More Than Enough

A friend mentioned in her status update recently that "God always chooses the right person for the job... we're the ones who have our doubts..."  I had just finished reading the portion of Scripture describing the construction of the Tabernacle for the children of Israel to construct when I read her words.  God detailed a place for Him to dwell among them.  I love the details that God gives for each item, including the hooks.  He shows concern for the little things that will bring Him honor.

Even more than that, I am humbled by the use of the phrase "a skilled craftsman" should do the work.  Several times as God is describing how things should be built and the types of material to use, He says a "skilled craftsman" is to do the work.  Then, in Exodus 31: 1-5, God says,
"See what I've done; I've personally chosen Bezalel...I've filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him skill and know how and expertise in every kind of craft to create designs and work in gold, silver, and bronze to cut and set gemstones; to carve wood - he's an all-around craftsman."
LOVE IT!  God commanded a temple to be built and He gifted someone with the skills necessary to do an exceptional the Spirit of God! Normally, we all think of the spiritual gifts listed in I Corinthians to be the only things God gifts us for in ministry.  But, right here in the Old Testament, we are shown that God gives us ALL of our abilities, ALL of our knowledge, ALL of our passions to be used for His glory!

When Moses tells the children of Israel what God has commanded in regards to building this place of worship some of them are touched by the Spirit to give.
Exodus 35:20-29  "...then they came back, everyone whose heart was roused, whose spirit was freely responsive, bringing offerings to God...  They came...all the willing spirits among them...women skilled at weaving brought their weavings...women who were gifted in spinning, spun... Every man and woman in Israel whose heart moved freely to bring something for the work that God through Moses had commanded them to make, brought it, a voluntary offering for God."
How awesome would this sight be?  God gives a church a job to do.  He moves among them and they give through obedience.  And, without the mention of the blessing they will receive through their obedient giving. What a concept!  Give because God says to, not because of what we could get.  His Spirit moves in us and causes to care.  He causes us to become emotionally involved and moves us to act by giving what He has ALREADY blessed us with.

But, wait!  It gets better!  In Exodus 36, a picture is painted that I have yet to see with my own eyes or experience in my lifetime. 
"The people kept on bringing in their freewill offerings, morning after morning.  All the artisans who were at work making Moses, saying, 'The people are bringing more than enough for doing this work that God has commanded us to do!'...The people were ordered to stop bringing offerings!"
Can you imagine a preacher getting up before his congregation and telling them that the offering plates would not be passed that day because the church had more than enough to do the work God had given them?  How often has this happened?  Exodus 36:7 says, "There was plenty...enough and more than enough."

God instills in each of us exactly what we need to obey.  He has gifted us, shaped us for His service from our dreams to our knowledge to our skills to our pocketbooks.  He wants us to be involved in His Kingdom work and has graciously provided us with everything we need to obey Him just as He commands us.

What is it that your church has been called to do?  What are the pastors at your church looking for?  How has God gifted you to meet those needs?  How is the Spirit rousing your heart?  Jump in!  Day after day volunteer.  Be the one to provide more than enough, because YOU are the one He has gited!  YOU are the one God has chosen. 

YOU are the one!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Braggin' Rights

Okay...just a litle bragging for today.  My kids are just way too cool!  This was homecoming week at school and the prizes are awarded for the best dressed each day.  Cameron has always wanted to win, but has yet to achieve that goal.  This was definitely his year...sorry to say I did not take pictures.  Don't know what I was thinking...oh yeah, I am just trying to get out of the house on time!  ;)

Anyway, Cameron won for Geek Day and Favorite Color Day.  On Geek Day he had a shirt buttoned up to his neck with a pocket full of pens, jeans pulled up to his armpits, mismatched knee socks, dress shoes and the greasiest slicked over hair that wouldn't budge even when we tried to wash it out.  SOOO wish I had a picture!

For Favorite Color Day, he was in Jayhawk colors (of course!).  He wore blue Jayhawk shorts and shirt, painted his arms and legs blue and his head and hair red.  AWESOME!!  So much fun!

Chloe won for Maroon Mania Day!  She wore her cheerleader uniform, homecoming mum, high ponytail with a maroon mesh bow that stood high on her head and had her face painted maroon and white!  It was awesome!

My fifth grade class won the door decorating contest and the Founder's Award for class cheer at the pep rally.  We won simply because we were the only class to create a cheer based on the theme of the week...Superheros!  Ice Cream Parties await us!

Jackson and Cameron both had to miss the pep rallies because they had won the school spelling bee for their grades and the regional bee was yesterday afternoon.  Cameron finished 7th place and Jackson finished 3rd!!  I am so proud of them! 

Monday was the school speech meet.  Cameron won for his recitation of "The Honest Woodman" and Jackson won for his original speech "Our Nation:  Freedom or Chains."  The regional speech meet is in February.  I'll be sure to let you know how it goes!

I truly love my children and am so blessed to be their mom!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

God's Important Nothings

I wrote the following for a ladies ministry website a few years ago and the Lord brought it to my mind recently.  I will always be encouraged by the fact that the King of Kings loves me so intimately and cares for me so deeply that He will not allow a single one of my tears to escape His attention.  And that is saying something because He created very active tear ducts in this girl!  I love Him so much and am moved that He loves me more!  He loves you more too!

"You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights, each tear entered in Your ledger, each ache written in Your book.” Psalm 56:9 (The Message)

When I was in high school I wanted to be just like my youth minister’s wife. She was beautiful, smart, married (which is always a dream for a teenage girl) and in an obvious love relationship with Jesus. I began to watch her closely and emulate what I saw. One thing I learned from her that I still enjoy to this day is journaling.

My mom bought my first journal and I began taking notes in church. I had the amazing privilege of sitting under the preaching of Paige Patterson and my first exposure to a little Greek. This ignited a spark of desire to learn on my own and my journal grew from simply church notes to devotional thoughts and prayers of response.

Through this relationship that was budding in the pages of my journal, I began talking with Jesus all day and my journal became an integral part of my days. I jotted down thoughts and prayers and all my important nothings. My journal is simply full of letters to Jesus; letters from my heart.

I have looked back through my journals and my important nothings in high school were all about boys. I prayed about which ones to date, which ones to set my friends up with and which one I would marry. In college, my letters to Jesus remained on boys but also showed my first true hurt in life as my mom died. The pages written during those days truly display the pain and confusion I felt as I lost my best friend.

My journals from the early years of marriage show my excitement and faith in the life God had chosen for my new husband and me. The way He provided for us during seminary and our first place of ministry is recorded in my journals. The struggle between wanting to become parents and not becoming pregnant brought questions but not always answers. And yet, my love and trust in Jesus remains evident in my journal, especially at the birth of my first and shortly after, second sons. I returned to the days of journaling about boys.

Besides the grief of losing my mom, my journals are happy and content memories of how God directs and uses us to build His kingdom. They are full of verses that God used to speak to me specifically about situations. These journals are my life story.

A few years ago my life story became one of seeming failure. My husband and I stepped out in faith and came back broken and in pain. The pages in my journal are now tear-stained with words that cannot be read. Many nights I fall asleep on a wet pillow and wake up with a headache from the tossing and turning which keeps true rest far away. I wonder when the joy of ministry will find me again and my life story return to joy.

Until that time, it is comforting to know that God is also journaling. His important nothings are all about me. He keeps track of each toss and turn that keeps me awake and counts each tear that falls down my cheek and those that get wiped away. He knows about my sleepless nights and each ache that lives in my heart. God journals about me and includes His very own words to cover my life. The Bible says that Jesus lives to make intercession for me and that intercession is evident in His ledger, His journal.

Friend, God also cares about you. He cares about your joys and your tears. He knows what keeps you awake at night. So even when physical rest eludes you, know that you can find true spiritual rest in the arms of our Father.

Gay Anne Bates

Friday, January 22, 2010

Victory Dance

When Jackson first started school we were living in Missouri and he attended New Covenant Academy in Springfield.  It was such a blessing from God for our family as it was also where I worked.  I became friends with his teacher and she shared with me how one of the other moms encouraged her.  Every Friday this mom would include a handwritten letter in the daily folder being returned to class.  Each time I had the privilege to read the letter, I was inspired and touched by the beauty of the words that centered on Scripture.

Jackson is now in the 5th grade in Texas, but I am sure that mom is still writing her Friday letters in Missouri.  As a matter of fact, I have been the recipient of some this week.  Now, I realize I shouldn't call them "Friday letters" since I have received them on Wednesday and Thursday but I just can't shake the connection of my memory. 

This friend has read my blog posts and twitter/facebook updates and messaged me about my struggles with our home building process.  And though our situation is real and we are following through with our legal rights, she helped me focus on the truth of God's word which says, "In this world you may [will] have trouble, take heart!  I have overcome the world!"  Jn 16:33

Those words are written in red...the words of Jesus...the blood of Jesus which overcame the world and His word I can confidently stand on.  I won't be sitting back and watching things happen, I will be up doing a victory dance knowing that my Savior has taken care of my troubles and He will be sure to get the glory.  I will not stand in His way!  I will dance alongside Him...waltzing with the Spirit!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

He Hears Me When I Call

"Patience is the internal calm to the external storm."

This quote was part of our Love Dare calendar last weekend and I absolutely love it....probably because I am truly in a storm.  I don't know how things are going to work for God's good.  I don't see how He will receive glory in this situation.  And, I have no idea how I am supposed to have patience which will produce a peaceful calm!

I do know that God's words are faithful and true...HE is faithful and true.  I do know that He will never let me down or leave me stranded.  And, I am confident that He will take care of His glory.  I will not stand in His way when His glory is at stake.

Even in my knowledge and experience of God's constant care and unwavering provisions, I still want to cry over what is happening to us.  My heart is broken and I just don't understand.
"God listened....
God remembered....
God saw....
God understood." 
Exodus 2:24-25 (msg)
He hears my cries and He is listening for them.  He hears my frustration and is listening for it.  He hears my heart that trusts Him and He is listening for it.

He remembers His promises.  He knows the words He has spoken to me and He remembers them on my behalf.

God sees what is happening to my family.  He sees how we are being mistreated.  His eyes are not shielded to the fact that we are being robbed.  Praise to Him, He also sees how His children are coming to our aid and defense.  He sees generosity and sacrifice offered to ease the pain and remove the isolation of loneliness.  (as if we are the only ones to ever be treated so)

He understands our hurt and our humility.  He understands our weaknesses and how difficult it is to ask for and accept the help we so desperately need.
"I've taken a good, long look....
I've heard their cries....
I know all about their pain....
I have come to help them..."
Exodus 3:7 (msg)
Even now as I write these words, His eyes are on me.  He sees my situation.  His ears are attuned to my unspoken fears and silent cries.  God knows my pain.  He has a first-hand knowledge of the feeling caused by betrayal.  And, He is here to help me.

Thank you Father!  I need You...every hour...every minute.  Heal my heart and be sure to receive the glory as You come to help me.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

"Mommy, Watch me!"

Today begins Cameron's basketball season...well, besides the practice schedule.  I love these two months of the year.  I love watching him play a sport that I love so much...and play so well.  And, he loves being watched...and cheered! 

Don't we all?

 Jackson decided during his basketball season last year that team sports were not for him.  He, like me, is a rule follower and he struggles when teammates and coaches don't enforce the rules during practice.  He likes things done "decently and in order."  After one practice, he came out in tears and told me that perhaps he needed to try golf because then it was only him.  I told him we would sign him up as soon as basketball ended.  And, that is just what we did!  Perfect choice.

He has played in a couple of tournaments and won 2nd place in a 4-man scramble.  The day of that tournament was a crazy one for me and I was unable to walk the course with him.  He was sad, but understood.  As the tournament was ending and I was heading back to pick him up, my daddy called asking where I was.  He was there!  He had walked the entire 18 holes watching Jackson play...and Jackson loved it!  He was sooooo happy.  I am confident having someone there watching him improved his game.

Chloe is the same way.  At gymnastics, she keeps her eye on me making sure I am looking at her and not using those precious minutes to grade papers.  During the summers at the pool there is a constant chatter of "Mommy, Watch me!  Look at me!"  And, at the Christmas play during her solo she looked straight at me and smiled the whole time waiting for her cue to begin.

We all want to be noticed and cheered.  We all want the approval of those we love.  What a wondrous knowledge that God notices us!  A great cloud of witnesses is in Heaven cheering for us.  Live your life with the goal of seeing that smile on God's face and hearing the words, "Well done."

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Game Changer

For those of you that don't know, I am a HUGE Kansas Jayhawks fan!  And my favorite player is fellow Christ-follower, Tyrel Reed.  I first decided he was my favorite when Cameron was at KU basketball camp two summers ago.  KU players will come through the gyms, talk with the kids and shoot around.  Most of them wear Jayhawk attire, but not Tyrel.  The first time he came in Cameron's gym, he sat with the kids chatting away while wearing a shirt with many different names of Jesus.  On the back it said, "Everything He is, He is for you."  Here is a picture of the moment I am talking about.  (Cameron is in the #25 jersey.)

Love it!  Just as I respect and admire Tim Tebow for such awesome use of eye black, Tyrel Reed took advantage of a simple moment of influence to share his faith with impressionable boys.  I told Tyrel's father about this last season after the KU/Baylor game and he chuckled and reminded me that Tyrel is just like the rest of us...making mistakes and all.  I told Coach Reed that I am sure Tyrel is, but that is why Jesus came and I respect him for telling my son about Him.

Well, tonight KU - - #1 in the polls, undefeated! - - was losing to Cornell...unranked Cornell.  It was not a pretty picture.  Tyrel hadn't scored all game, and then he was open in the corner, shot a three and...nothing but net!  (If I remember correctly.  And if I didn't, it still went in and counted!) 

The game changed.  The crowd changed.  The players changed.  You could see it in their faces...determination now mixed with confidence.  They were not going to lose, and they didn't.  The Jayhawks are still the #1 team...undefeated!  It was such an exciting victory to watch and I love that Tyrel was a game changer!

Perfect example of what Jesus did for us!  Sin has us down...on our own we are defeated, but Jesus came.  He couldn't stay away!  He was crucified.  He was buried.  but PRAISE GOD!!!  He was resurrected!!!  Talk about a game changer!  And, He lives so that I can live.

I don't wear eye black...I am not on national television...My name does not bring up millions of results when googled.  However, I am in contact with people everyday.  My circle of influence may be smaller than Tim Tebow's and Tyrel Reed's, but God has still entrusted me with souls that are precious to Him.  He has entrusted you with a circle of influence as well.  Let's be sure we are faithful to share the exciting news about the ultimate game changer!

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Cord of Three

While taking down all the Christmas trees at church, I got to talking with one of our middle school students. He is reading the Harry Potter books for AR tests at school and we began discussing our favorite characters. He mentioned that he likes Luna because she is so weird, especially when she was out with the "strange horses" (they are called thestrals).

That is one of my favorite scenes in that particular movie because of what Luna tells Harry. He feels alone, like noone understands the situation he finds himself in. Noone shares information with him during the summer months away from school. His trusted professor isn't talking to him. He feels isolated and weak.

Luna tells him that is exactly the way Voldemort (the enemy) wants him to feel because if he is all alone he isn't much of a threat.

Now I realize that Harry Potter is not a Christian movie and many Christians believe we shouldn't read the books or watch the movie. I believe that we should use whatever the world dishes out and use it to point people to Christ. The Harry Potter books make this task fairly simple, and this quote from Luna is one shining example.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 (msg) "By yourself you're unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn't easily snapped."

Our enemy, Satan, wants us to feel alone and isolated in this world. He wants us unprotected so he can snap us in two. However, when we surround ourselves with fellow Christians - someone to challenge us to think right, do right and grow spiritually - we can face the worst. We will not be defeated.
Who are you surrounded with? Have you chosen friends that are growing in Christ? Have you chosen friends who are in the Word, listening for God's voice? Have you chosen friends that make wise choices in places to go and people to listen to?

Don't let Satan win this battle. Don't try to defeat Him on your own...find a Christian friend who will stand against him with you and trust the Holy Spirit to be your third. He is the strand that cannot be broken!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

He Knows My Thoughts

In Genesis 18, God appeared to Abraham and Abraham recognized Him! He saw three men approaching and he ran to greet them. He showed honor to God through his hospitality of food, drink and rest. Abraham was reminded of the covenant which God had established with him to make him a great nation. Sarah was hiding behind a tree listening and laughed to herself. Quietly...a secret rolling of the eyes...a "Yeah, right! Like that's gonna happen!" moment to herself.

Then God spoke up and asked Abraham why Sarah laughed. At that moment Sarah chose to lie to God. God Himself...face to face. She said, "I didn't laugh." But God said, "Yes, you did. You laughed."

Can you imagine?!! Lying to God and being busted for it! Lying probably came naturally to Sarah because Abraham has modeled it for her when he told her to say she was his sister. Instead of relying on the provision of the Almighty God, Abraham took matters into his own hands and lied. The truth came it always does, and Abraham was sent away.

God knew Sarah's heart. He knew that she did not believe that He was powerful enough to cause her to become pregnant at her age. She knew that having a child was past and that God would have to fulfill His covenant some other way. Before God even appeared and spoke with Abraham, He knew that Sarah would laugh. But it didn't stop Him from giving her a chance at risking something great by believing in the sovereignty of the Almighty.

As Abrahams' guests prepare to leave, God lets Abraham in on His plans to destroy Sodom. God knows that Abraham's nephew, Lot, is there and He knows that Abraham feels responsible for him. Lot's father, Haran, had died and Abraham looked after him. So, even though they were living in different cities, Abraham's heart was for Lot.

"Abraham stood in God's path, blocking His way." Genesis 18:22 (msg)

WOW! Abraham blocked God. He stood in God's way. Not only does Abraham stand there, he begins bargaining with God for the city of Sodom. He asks for it to be spared for 50 righteous lives. When God agrees, Abraham goes for 45...40...30...20 and finally, knowing he is exasperating God, he asks for 10. God agrees.

Nowhere in this passage do we find God getting angry or impatient with Abraham. He converses with him and agrees on his numbers each time. At the conclusion, God headed on to Sodom and Abraham goes home.

I'm sure Abraham goes home sad because the reputation of a city precedes it. He knew what Sodom was like and I'm sure he had tried to protect Lot in the past. Abraham also knows that God will not allow His children to live in continual sin and will probably not find 10 righteous men. He probably spent the evening mourning his nephew Lot.

First thing the next morning, Abraham went to the place where he had met with God and looked out over Sodom. All there was to see was smoke coming up like from a furnace. He did not yet know that "When God destroyed the Cities of the Plain, he was mindful of Abraham and got Lot our of there before He blasted those cities off the face of the Earth." (Genesis 19:29 msg)

God knew Sarah's thoughts even when she lied to His face. God knew Abraham's thoughts even when he didn't ask for the very thing that he wanted. Not only did He know, but He cared. In spite of her unbelief, God gave Isaac to Sarah and in spite of Abraham's embarrassment of acknowledging that a family member was living in sin, God spared Lot's life.

Oh Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit
and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going
out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is
on my tongue, you know it completely O Lord. Psalm 139:1-4 (niv)

He knows my thoughts. He knows my heart. He knows my dreams and desires. He knows what I want to say and what I am ashamed to say. And, the best part of it all...He cares!

It matters to Him what I think. It matters to Him what I can't bring myself to say. It matters to Him that I find it hard to believe. It matters to Him that I so desperately want to please Him and am so afraid that I will fail Him. It matters to Him!

I matter to Him!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Jehovah Nissi - The Lord is my Banner

While in college I went through T. W. Hunt's study, Prayerlife. What an intense time of spiritual growth that was for me. One of the many lessons that have stayed with me is the names of God.

Names have always been important to me...perhaps because of my name, Gay. My parents gave me a beautiful name meaning "happy" and the world has distorted the meaning. In youth culture today my name simply means "stupid." As an adult, I can handle this. I am proud of who I am and noone can change who I am in God's eyes. I have learned that only what God says about me truly matters. However, it has taken me 40 years to be able to say this.

I started a new school in 6th grade and got teased mercilessly for my name. I hated it. I hated the way it made me feel, never knowing who was going to say something or when they would say it. Or how many people would be around to laugh at me.
For my 7th grade year I decided to go by my middle name, Anne. As a 12 year old, I didn't think through this very well. All my new teachers and the new students called me Anne, yet to everyone else my name was Gay. So confusing.

At the end of the year awards assembly I was to receive the award in math and I remember begging my teacher to call my name as Gay Anne Weatherall. She had such a baffled expression on her face. I tried to explain the situation and offered to write it down for her. Thankfully, she remembered. You see, I hadn't told my dad about my name problems and I knew he would be heartbroken or just plain mad if he knew I was going by Anne. Or trying to go by Anne.

So, when I learned the names of God I truly had a personal attachment to the lesson. I wanted to use His name correctly. The one that captured my imagination is Jehovah Nissi. The Lord is My Banner. He goes before me proclaiming that I am His. I am protected by His blood. I am redeemed. I am His friend.

Proverbs 2:11 (msg) states, "Good Sense will scout ahead for danger, Insight will keep an eye on you." Good sense, discretion goes ahead of me as I choose to search for wisdom and knowledge. My overactive imagination pictured Good Sense and Insight as the boy scouts carrying the banner that goes before me in the parade route. You know, the ones in the Rose Parade that declare the float winners. Or the dressed up soldier type guy that announces guests at presidential or royal events.

That's me. If you are a Christ follower, that's you. Christ is announcing you. He is preparing the way for you. He is sending out His army keeping danger at bay and protecting you as you travel the path He has prepared. The path specifically chosen for you.

As I decide that 2010 is the year I truly put forth sustained, genuine effort in writing Voice Lessons, I need the knowledge that God is Jehovah Nissi. He is my banner. Tears fill my eyes as I imagine Him speaking to and preparing the hearts of those I am going to contact for permission to tell their stories. He is getting me ready to work as I research for this project.

He is my Banner. He is making the path straight and secure. Praise You, Father for going before me.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Rainbows to Remember

Rainbows are gloriously mysterious. Light hitting water and placing on exhibit the wonder that is God's creation. Everyone loves to see rainbows, especially double rainbows. They are beautiful sights indeed and we stretch our necks to see if we can discover the end.

We can only imagine the perfection of that first rainbow that God placed in the sky for Noah and his family as they had endured eleven long months aboard an ark caring for every living creature from the earth. WOW! We can hardly make it with our extended family in one house for the Christmas holiday. Imagine 11 months with them coupled with all the noises and smells that Noah's floating zoo contained.

When they all came off the ark, the animals scattered and I'm sure the ladies started looking for a place to "nest," somewhere to cook and sleep and take care of the family. However, Noah's first thought was to build an altar to God. He wanted to share the gratefulness that he felt for the care and provision that God had made for his family. The sweet fragrance of that sacrifice had an effect on God and He came and spoke to Noah. (I just want to say that again.)

The sweet fragrance of Noah's sacrifice had an effect on God and He came and spoke with Noah.

Think on that. Noah's actions affected God's behavior. What if Noah hadn't honored God for delivering his family safely through the flood with an altar of honor and praise? Where would we be now? Would we know a rainbow? Our actions bring consequences to everyone around us. What we say and do effects others and even God, Himself.

Noah did make a sacrifice and God did come to speak with Him. God told Noah that He was setting up a covenent with him and everything living thing around him that He would never again destroy the Earth with flood waters. This covenant, a promise that cannot be broken, brought with it a sign of remembrance. God not only wanted Noah to have a mental knowledge of His covenant with him; He wanted Noah to have a visual image to associate with that covenant.

In Genesis 9:8-17 (msg), the word covenant is used seven times. Of those seven times, five of them are connected with the words sign or remember. God knows our limitations and He makes accommodations for them. He knows that our head knowledge becomes dim and gave us a visual reminder of the binding agreement that He made with Noah.

The day my family broke ground on our new home there was a rainbow overhead. I took a picture of it and thanked the Lord for His visual reminder of His covenant with me. Not only to keep the Earth from being destroyed by flood, but also to be my strength when I am weak. He promises to never leave me or forsake me. He promises to give His angels charge over me. He promises to one day come back for me, His bride.

I trust Him to keep His word and look forward to the visual remembrances He places before me.

"Holy! Holy! Holy! Is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!"